Medellin’s got some fascinating neighborhoods to explore. And, one of the biggest attractions of Colombia’s second-largest city is the variety of vibes unfolding in the different barrios of this fast-moving mountain metropolis.
The result is that when you go to Medellin, a big part of choosing which hotel to stay at is choosing which neighborhood to stay in!
If you’re trying to figure out where to stay in Medellin and are feeling stumped, don’t panic. We’re here with some tips on the city’s two major sectors and where to stay.
The Layout: An Overview of Medellin’s Neighborhoods
The river Medellin divides the city in two along a north-south axis. On top of that, the metropolitan area is split into 16 comunas, or administrative districts. This is for the purpose of local government.
Each comuna hosts a selection of smaller neighborhoods that all have a very distinctive atmosphere depending on the socio-cultural mix in the area.
Most foreign visitors to Medellin tend to end up staying in two of the largest comunas: Poblado to the south-east and Laureles, to the north-west.
Poblado and Laureles have become the go-to places to stay for their superior selection of Airbnb vacation rentals. That’s probably got something to do with their proximity to the best bars, coffee restaurants and shopping options in Medellin.
A good way to break down the neighborhoods is to compare them to New York City. If you think of it that way, Poblado would be something akin to Manhattan, while Laureles might be considered Brooklyn. Rionegro, Llanogrande, and El Retiro would be the Hamptons.
Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals in Medellin
Most of Medellin’s most exclusive apartment blocks have tight restrictions on owners being able to rent out to short-term visitors on Airbnb.
If an influential local resident lives in the apartment block there are very likely to be restrictions on rentals of less than 30 days in line with Colombian law.
The demand for Airbnb vacation rentals in the city, however, has resulted in a spate of high-end properties being built. These could be for investors, foreign nationals, and digital nomads. These places are designed for people that want to own a pad in Medellin and be able to rent them out when they‘re not in the city.
All of Casacol’s properties are in buildings that are 100% Airbnb friendly. They’re built to avoid any restrictions on rentals to short-term visitors. They include a friendly receptionist ready to meet you on arrival and help you get settled in.
All About thePoblado District
Poblado is where the city’s affluent and powerful families used to have their traditional family homes and even castles. It’s a quaint little village on the eastern side of the valley looking down on the rest of Medellin from a privileged perch.
In the 1980s, there were none of the luxury residential tower blocks, hotels, and shopping centers that have transformed Poblado into Miami in the mountains.
Most of Medellin’s influential families still have an apartment in one of the more luxurious apartment blocks built on top of their former fincas, in the San Lucas, Alejandria, Provenza Arriba, Aviñon, or Los Balsos neighborhoods. Still, some of Medellin’s movers and shakers have moved out to more expansive mountain retreats in Rionegro, El Retiro, or Llanogrande.
The exodus of reggaeton stars and top executives has left Poblado to become an Airbnb paradise for foreigners seeking a convenient corner of the city to enjoy the best nightlife, bars, fine-dining restaurants, and high-end shopping in Medellin.
The Vibe in Poblado
Blessed with a series of streams running through the mountain into the Medellin River, Poblado remains one of the lushest places to stay in Medellin and soak up Colombia’s remarkable biodiversity.
Money talks in Poblado and you’ll pay more to stay here and enjoy the convenience of being within walking distance of the city’s most exclusive places to eat, drink, and party. Just be aware that the steep incline of the mountains might mean you’ll end up getting a taxi home after venturing down the hill to enjoy Poblados considerable charms.
The Best Bars in Poblado
It was the nightlife of Parque Lleras that first put this neighborhood on the map for foreign visitors. Today, however, most of the best new bars and restaurants are opening three blocks further up the hill from Parque Lleras in leafy Provenza or in the trendy neighborhoods of Astorga and Manila located in the area below Avenida Poblado.
When it comes to bars, you’re in the right place for some elevated cocktails and nocturnal fun and frolics.
Most of the best rooftop bars can be found in Provenza, Parque Lleras, and Manila. You can grab a drink at just about any spot on the block and know you’re getting a good drink.
What’s more, there are plenty of places where you can go out dancing. Medellin’s top nightclubs tend to concentrate in the three blocks of bars and restaurants in Provenza, so you’ll be in for a great night in the neighborhood.
It’s not just drinks that you’ll find in Poblado, either. There are some truly incredible restaurants located in this neighborhood, too.
Medellin’s upscale restaurants are almost exclusively concentrated in Poblado in either Provenza, Lalinde (a small neighborhood on the north side of Calle 10), and Astorga. The restaurants here are great for a date night or for schmoozing that tough colleague.
If Friday night dates aren’t your thing, then perhaps you’ll join the Sunday crowd for bottomless mimosas. The top brunch joints also happen in some of the rarefied real estate of Poblado.
While Poblado has undisputedly been the home for Medellin’s most influential families throughout the ages and is home to the most spectacular Airbnb apartments today, Laureles has been one of the city’s most intellectual and creative neighborhoods.
Laureles may have always been a popular second best to Poblado for out-of-town visitors but you get more bang for your buck in this pretty barrio. With its charming mid-century modern architecture and leafy boulevards connecting a couple of pretty parks and the stadium complex, it’s become a popular place for Airbnb with local and foreign owners.
You can find some attractive deals staying in this well-located district. The Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana found on the border of Laureles and Belen (another well-rounded neighborhood with plenty going for it) gives Laureles a studious vibe and there’s an impressive selection of student-friendly bars in the vicinity with prices that won’t leave a Poblado-shaped dent in your wallet.
With an interesting socio-economic mix of working-class neighborhoods like Estadio and laid-back, residential middle-class neighborhoods like Conquistadores you have a far more authentic Medellin vibe.
The historic artery, Calle San Juan, connects the city from west to east, with every type of commercial venture you could imagine en route, and Calle 70 is a bristling thoroughfare thrown over to the city’s heavy-drinking football fans at weekends.
To the north, Velodromo is a wonderful neighborhood that’s slowly being gentrified but has plenty of affordable Airbnb options.
The Vibe in Laureles
In general, the hotels in Laureles are more tailored towards Latin American visitors on a budget. But, there are plenty of foreigners that have set up shop in Laureles. These places have started renting some beautiful apartments on Airbnb.
One of the charms of this neighborhood is being able to explore it on foot or by bike. There’s an impressive network of cycle lanes connecting Laureles to Belen to the south. The lanes also connect to Suramericana and the Universidad de Antioquia to the north.
Both neighborhoods are also interesting to visit to see the city in a more authentic light. That’s what you want when you book with Airbnb, right?
The Best Bars in Laureles
Most of the best nightlife and restaurants in Laureles can be found nestled between Primera Parque de Laureles and Segundo Parque de Laureles. That’s close to the University and Belen.
There’s a host of lively bars on Calle 70 that are excellent for an evening with friends. Or, it’s a good place to meet some new friends. Plus, you can find some fun and lively areas for getting the party started!
Salsa fans shouldn’t miss the live band and bottomless bottles of rum at Son Havana! This is one of the best places to get a sweat on in Medellin. Just be sure to plan a late start the next day!